Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Birthers Who Wouldn’t Die

Article first published as The Birthers Who Wouldn’t Die on BlogCritics

Obama birth certificate2Bowing to over two years of birther nonsense, with increased yammering as of late from Donald Trump, President Obama today released his long form birth certificate publicly. There were no surprises here. It is essentially the same as the previous document released a couple of years ago, with the addition of the hospital name and signatures of attending physicians and witnesses. There were also no surprises from Trump, who pulled a muscle patting himself on the back, nor were there surprises from the birthers who predictably countered with “Why did it take so long?” and answered themselves with “It gave him time to have it forged.” Trump said he needed to examine it to ensure its authenticity. Perhaps we need to send the birth certificate on the road so every American can see it with their own eyes, and touch the raised seal with their fingertips. We can send it off in a super cool tricked-out tour bus, call it the Birther Bus Tour 2011. “Are you ready to rock? On your feet or on your knees!”

Sadly, it’s increasingly clear that nothing will ever be good enough to convince these people that our President is a bona fide American citizen and that he is their duly elected President. When some of us point out the obvious, that there is a racial element to their refusal to believe in his citizenship, they howl that we are playing the race card. As Bill Maher said, “There are two things that teabaggers hate. One is being called racists. The other is black people.”

I can simply find no other explanation for their willful, blind ignorance concerning facts and documentation. If someone wants to protest his policies, have at it. That is your right. However, your refusal to accept him as “one of us” can only be due to the fact that he doesn’t look like your concept of the typical American, and the fact that the typical American is no longer a white guy is what really drives you crazy. He is smart, he is well off financially, he is articulate, and he is occupying the White House. He’s also black, and you simply can’t accept that. I would have at least a glimmer of an iota of respect for anyone who stood up and said, “I don’t like him because he’s black.” At least they would have the honesty to stand up for their beliefs, no matter how abhorrent and ignorant. If there is no racism involved, why haven’t you been clamoring for any other candidates’ birth certificates? Why this particular man? Why didn’t you demand to see John McCain’s birth certificate, a man who really was born in another country (Panama) when his father was stationed there? Be honest. You don’t have to be honest with anyone else, but at least be honest with yourself.

No, this brand of racism is insidious. It’s sneaky. It allows people to publicly say that a black man has no business in the White, no, not because he’s black, of course not! No, it’s because he’s not really a U.S. citizen. I would like to ask these people how they would feel if they applied for a passport, and showed their birth certificate. The person at the office hands it back to you and says, “I’m sorry. This isn’t a legitimate document.” You explain that you went to the court house and that is the document that they issued to you. The clerk says, “It’s not real.” You say that it is what they gave you...they told you it was a legal document. The clerk says, “No, I can’t accept this.” You grow increasingly frustrated and ask why not. They shrug and say, “I don’t just doesn’t look right. And I don’t think you look right, either.” That is essentially what the birthers are doing to the President of the United States of America, and it’s time to start being a little more honest with their motives and reasoning (or lack thereof). You have every right to tell me that you don’t believe the President is a U.S. citizen. I have every right to tell you you’re mistaken, and that I doubt your intelligence.

Was it a good choice for the President to release this? Some have said that he is pandering to these people, or legitimizing their “cause.” This was certainly a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The percentage of Republicans who doubt his citizenship has only gone up, inexplicably, in recent months. There will always be those who refuse to accept any documentation; at least this might result in a few somewhat rational people accepting it and moving on. Others—like Trump—will simply ask for more records, like his college transcripts. It is time for this to stop. It does
provide an opportunity for the Democrats and President Obama; if the Republicans continue to align themselves with extremists, that can be pointed out early and often. The reasonable thing to do would be to put this non-issue to bed once and for all, as John McCain did during the 2008 campaign. Who among the current crop of Republican candidates will have the courage and decency to do so now? I won’t hold my breath.